Feds Fail at Linking Crime to Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Los Angeles and Elsewhere

The Imperial Beach Patch reports a study found no connection between crime and medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles and elsewhere in California.

The Imperial Beach City Council was scheduled to open the floor to public comments and read proposed ordinances last week before voters cast their votes on whether or not to adopt a ban on the dispensaries. They currently have a temporary moratorium that was first approved in 2009, but will expire in August.
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Our Los Angeles medical marijuana attorneys understand that oftentimes officials directly correlate crime with the presence of medical marijuana. The thing is, there has been no evidence to prove this claim. Crime has remained the same in areas with and without medical dispensaries. These theories are just another attempt for the government to paint the industry in a bad light in an effort to shut it down completely.

Back in December, City Manager Gary Brown recommended adopting a ban on these businesses because of what he thought was an increase in crime. He strongly believed that there was a significant increase of criminal activity near dispensaries in San Francisco and Los Angeles — or so he said.

Neither the San Diego Police Department or the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department could show any official report that linked an increase in crime to the locations of these medical marijuana facilities, according to the Imperial Beach Patch.

The Police Department has conducted a number of reviews on the information and the department has continued to come up empty handed, with no evidence of any increase in criminal activity in these areas.

“Since our opening in mid-February [2011], we have had no incidents or problems with our community, patients, law enforcement, neighbors or local businesses,” said Pat with the American Treatment Advancement Cooperative Inc., or ATA, who declined to state his last name.

This information is supported by evidence that has been provided by the San Diego Police Department’s Narcotics Division. Medical marijuana co-ops reported a large boom in operations between May 1, 2009, and April 30, 2011 and during this time no marijuana crime related activity was reported at the ATA.

Throughout the last two years, five medical marijuana dispensaries that border Imperial Beach reported no crime related to the cultivation of their product, selling or possession of medical marijuana.

Data was provided, specifically on marijuana related offenses, from May of 2009 to April of 2011 by Sheriff’s spokesman Mark Walters. During this time, there were more than 1,300 drug-related charges in the city of Imperial Beach. More than 500 of them were for possession of marijuana, seven for selling marijuana and nine for cultivating the substance. These charges resulted in more than 450 arrests on marijuana related offenses. These charges included 55 juvenile offenders.

There are currently zero marijuana dispensaries operating in Imperial Beach.

According to the San Diego Police Department, crime statistics report that the overall crime in the area is at its lowest point since 1969. It has been on a constant decline in 2003.

“If we can come up with proper legislation we feel is adequate for Imperial Beach, the moratorium could be lifted,” Mayor Jim Janney said at the July meeting.

Back in December of 2010, City Manager Gary Brown recommended an outright ban of dispensaries for these reasons:

-Their presence could possibly result in an increase amount in crime.

-Dispensaries are easily accessible in San Diego.

-“The complexity of regulation and enforcement will place a costly burden on the city’s limited resources.”

Patients and a coalition of medical marijuana co-ops recently submitted a referendum that consisted of more than 47,000 signatures that forced council to amend the ordinance or let voters determine the fate of these co-ops through a special election. A decision regarding this matter is expected late this month. The group Stop the Ban IB is currently promoting a letter writing campaign to achieve this goal.

The CANNABIS LAW GROUP offers experienced and aggressive representation to the medical marijuana industry in Southern California, including growers, dispensaries and collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call 714-937-2050 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

An Analysis of Crime and Marijuana in and Near Imperial Beach, By Esther Rubio-Sheffrey, Imperial Beach Patch

More Blog Entries:

Raids Close Five Medical Marijuana Collectives in Fresno, Marijuana Lawyer Blog, June 12, 2011

Medical Marijuana Users in California Estimated at More Than 1 Million, Marijuana Lawyer Blog, June 6, 2011

Advocates Join to Protect the Rights of San Diego’s Medical Marijuana Dispensaries, Users, Marijuana Lawyer Blog, June 4, 2011